A Whirligig is a type of outdoor folk art that uses wind to make mechanical movements. I like making whirligigs that are not only fun to watch, but also have a practical purpose. My woodworking club had a picnic and whirligig contest, so I made a "Shoo Fly Don't Bother Me" Whirligig to keep the flies away from my food.
Watch my quick video of the build, then follow this Instructable to make one yourself. I don't have detailed plans for it, but just winging it and creating your own art is most of the fun.
Supplies Needed: 1/8" steel rod, 3/4" pine board, 4 fly swatters, Spray Paint, Thick Wire, Eye Screw, Screws, Washers, Hot Glue, 4 Rubber Feed (optional), Patience!
Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Cut the Base
I cut the base from 3/4" pine and it's about 9" wide x 14" long. Cut it into whatever shape you want, but make sure you have enough room along the back for positioning the uprights.
Step 2: Cut the Swing Arm
Cut the swing arm out of 3/4" pine. You can trace around a child's hand or print a hand outline from the web. The arm should be straight though and the whole thing is about 10" long.
Step 3: Cut the Center Post
Cut a 3/4"x3/4" post that is about 7" tall. Drill pilot holes in the center of both ends for the screws.
Step 4: Cut the Propeller Support
This part is kind of weird looking. You want it to be tall enough so that the spinning mechanism lines up horizontally with the center of the swing arm. You also want the top to extend out far enough for the propeller to be able to spin freely without hitting the stand. Drill the hole for the 1/8" steel rod. Drill a hole in the center of the bottom for the screw.
Step 5: Cut the Propeller Hub
Cut a small square piece of 3/4" pine for the hub. Buy four fly swatters at the dollar store and measure how thick the handle is. Cut them to approximate length for the fan blades. Drill holes in the four sides of the hub so the fly swatters will fit. Also drill a 1/8" hole in the center of the hub to slide onto the steel rod.
Step 6: Paint and Decorate It
This is a good time to paint everything before you put it together. You could also leave it bare wood if you want. Get creative. My favorite part of this project was using spray paint and blue tape to simulate the perfect picnic table cloth.
Step 7: Assemble the Wooden Parts
1. Screw the center post onto the base from the bottom.
2. Use a long screw to attach the swing arm to the center post, placing washers above and below the arm. Leave this loose enough so the arm swings easily.
3. Attach the propeller support to the base from the bottom.
4. Hot glue the fan blades into the hub.
Step 8: Make the Wire Mechanism
Bend an 1/8" steel rod with a U shape on one end. Slide it through the propeller support. Use some nuts as spacers and hot glue the propeller on the other end.
Screw an eye screw into the center of the end of the swing arm. Connect the eye screw to the U of the propeller rod with some wire. You may need to fiddle with the length of the wire to get it to work smoothly. This part takes patience and some trial and error, so have fun with it!
Step 9: Add a Name Plate
Every good whirligig has a name. Attach a name plate to it so people will get what it is. This one is called "Shoo Fly Don't Bother Me!"
Step 10: Add a Food Plate
Get a plate of food and put it on the whirligig, then let the wind shoo the flies away for you. If the wind is not cooperating, you can use a fan or leaf blower. You could also add a motor to it!
Thanks for checking out my whirligig Instructable. Work safe and have fun! Steve...
Participated in the
Make it Move Contest 2016